We have accomplished great things together, you and I. We repelled the Lich King at Light's Hope, and rescued the lost souls who had been imprisoned in his servitude. We destroyed the tyrant's spoiled heart in his own dark Cathedral, dealing him a mighty blow that paved the way for our assault upon his Citadel. And when all seemed lost, we were able to call upon the blessed Light and shatter the Lich King's most powerful tool of evil, Frostmourne.
Our partnership has been a grand crusade, Tirion. Never have I known a champion of virtue and justice as pure as yourself. You bear no ill will in your heart, and no darkness clouds your soul.
But I have sensed a change inside myself lately. A tiny crack in my luminous armor...a weakness. And it terrifies me.
Eight years ago, when you, Alexandros Mograine and the others embued my corrupted remains with the Light and cleansed me of evil, I became radiant and whole once more, empowered. As Alexandros said, I would hold a piece of each of you inside me, and your dedication to the Light would keep me strong. Though many of you have pursued different paths since then, and have often clashed over the years, your faith and loyalty to the Light have remained steadfast.
But recently, I have started to wonder if my time in the light may be coming to an end. For if I am the personification of my redeemers' faiths, what happens when none remain?
Of all who had a hand in my redemption, only you still walk amongst the living, Tirion. Alexandros was betrayed and killed by Renault, his own son, and High Inquisitor Fairbanks was murdered by Renault's conspirators within the Scarlet Crusade. High General Abbendis fell to the Scourge, and his daughter Brigitte is now dead, recently assassinated by Horde and Alliance soldiers who feared her forces. Arcanist Doan was killed by Horde adventurers years ago, and you slew Grand Inquisitor Isillien yourself, after he murdered your beloved son Taelan.
You are the only one left, Tirion. And while your indomitable willpower and conviction keeps me strong, you are not a young man. When Brigitte Abbendis passed from this world but a few short months ago, I sensed it immediately, and felt weakened, depleted and hollow inside. What will happen to me after you are gone? Will I fade away? Or will I, without your purity, become something terrible and dark?
It has, after all, happened before.
When my original wielder Alexandros fell, betrayed by his own son, his heart became twisted with bitterness and rage. As his chosen weapon, and tragically, the cause of his demise, I was intrinsically affected by the emotions warring within his soul. And as he succumbed to Kel'Thuzad's vile administrations, so too did I feel myself turning...corrupting.
I mourned for my partner's tortured soul, and for the first time, realized the drawback of my existence. In the hands of a virtuous crusader, I shine with righteous fury and am capable of striking down the most loathsome of foes, whether they be undead abomination or otherworldly demon. But if my wielder should fall to darkness, I am destined to follow suit, and become a terrible weapon of evil.
All was not lost, however. Though Alexandros now served the Lich King, his faith was but one of the components comprising me. I knew that as long as you, Abbendis, or any the others still lived and possessed pious hearts, I could be redeemed.
When Alexandros' young son freed his father's soul from its torment, I was glad for my former partner, but lamented that his redemption had come at such a terrible price. Once again, I was paired with a noble soul who had fallen from grace. I could do nothing but bide my time and wait.
I knew my hour of redemption had arrived when Darion led the Lich King's death knights against your former allies at Light's Hope Chapel. I fought back against Darion's will, refusing to let him strike down any followers of the Light. And when you seized my hilt, I once again felt the warm embrace of righteousness surge through me, cleansing me of the taint of evil as it had done before.
Twice now have I been liberated by the Light, but I know that I can never escape it entirely. As my brother D'ore once said, "Without the void, the Light cannot exist."
Does his message sound familiar, Tirion? You may recall that Alexandros once uttered similarly prophetic words; "Can good exist without evil? Can there be light without dark?"
The darkness is a part of me, friend. It sleeps within me, waiting for the slightest opportunity or moment of weakness to spread its insidious touch. When my kind is injured, we surrender to the darkness, and recede into a darkened state to heal and regain our strength. Even when we die, we do not cease to exist, but instead evolve into crystals of immense power.
You know of what I refer - Alexandros found me in such a state. In the right hands, we can be used to accomplish wonderful things. But we can also be a great blight should those with malevolent intentions find us.
It is my greatest fear that eventually you will fall in battle, and I will be lost to the forces of the Light. That some foul demon or monster will find me, corrupt me, and use my power for malicious purposes. I urge you, Tirion - do not let this happen! Though we have accomplished many wonderful things, they would all be for naught if I fell into the hands of one who knew the true extent of my power and would use me for evil purposes.
Take for example, my fallen kin M'uru. Like me, his remnants contained power beyond compare, which The Deceiver likely sought to use for his own atrocious ambitions. Thankfully, the Prophet Velen recovered M'uru's crystal and used it to reignite the Sunwell, a font of unbelievable, blessed energy.
Imagine the potency, the magnitude necessary for such an act, Tirion! What if Kil'Jaeden had instead perverted M'uru's remains and used them to ravage this world? What if someone like the Lich King had access to this sort of power in addition to his already fearsome abilities?
Even if it meant my destruction, I must never fall into evil's clutches. Not with my creators dead and the Light within me fainter than it has ever been. It could be mean the end of everything you cherish.
Fortunately, there is one other who played a crucial role in my creation: King Magni Bronzebeard. Though the dwarf had nothing to do with my purification, it was he who managed to forge and smelt my sanctified crystalline form into the mighty sword that you now carry. I take some comfort in knowing that if something were to happen to you, there would be at least one other who could anchor me to the world of the living, who understands the tremendous forces I contain.
With at least two suitable wielders still alive, I can put off my concerns and worries, for now. May you and Magni still have many years of life before you!
Secretly, I am glad...for ever since we destroyed Frostmourne, I have felt weary and drained. The runeblade was powerful, unbelievably so, and shattering it took a great deal out of us both. I do not know if we could do it again.
But at long last, though I have been weakened by our ordeals, the war is over. The people of this land will rejoice, and rebuild, and move on. And as for us, Tirion, my friend...finally, we can rest.
Show/Hide Letter Notes
Naaru: Dark or Light?
Old Hillsbrad Ashbringer Event - the purification of the Ashbringer crystal, pre-forging
Sunwell Plateau epilogue - dialogue explaining how Velen uses M'uru's dead remains to reignite the Sunwell
There was so much I wanted to squeeze into this letter, and I'm not entirely sure I succeeded. What I really wanted to drive home was two main ideas: the first concerning Ashbringer's Naaru connection, and the second being the idea that Ashbringer's power is linked to the original people who purified it, and whoever wields it.
- Ashbringer's darkened, original core may have been a Naaru, a piece of a Naaru, or a dead Naaru
- Like a Naaru, Ashbringer has gone through cycles of Light and Dark
- Ashbringer's original core appears identical, and its properties very similar, to M'uru in Sunwell Plateau.
There's too many similarities, in my opinion. Mograine and D'uru both say the same thing, that Light needs Darkness to exist. And when Velen reignites the Sunwell, Lady Liadrin's reaction to touching it is almost the same as when Mograine touches the purified Ashbringer crystal:
Liadrin: Blessed ancestors! I feel it... so much love... so much grace... there are... no words... impossible to describe...
Alexandros Mograine: I... It... It is beautiful. What I felt when I touched it... The Light coursed through me and I through it... It healed my spirit.
There's also the whole "physical embodiment of goodness" thing. That's what Ashbringer supposedly is, and that's basically what the Naaru represent as well.
Finally, a Naaru only converts to a darkened form when it is injured or damaged. And I still maintain that smashing an unholy artifact like Frostmourne must have some consequences, even on a sword as powerful as Ashbringer. If Ashbringer were a living person, he'd have one hell of a headache after that, that's all I'm saying.
The other theory I wanted to touch on was that almost all of Ashbringer's creators are now dead. And if they really did purify the original darkened core by infusing it with a bit of themselves, does that mean that their livelihood/faith is what powers the sword? It's an interesting concept, and when I thought about it, it does make sense - all of the contributors were holy people (except Doan, but he DID belong to a religious organization...), even if most were of the Scarlet Crusade.
It's also interesting to observe HOW they died. None died happy deaths. Lots of betrayal, lots of underhanded corruption at work. It almost makes you think that perhaps they gave TOO MUCH of themselves when purifying the artifact.
The idea that Ashbringer is only a weapon of righteousness as long as it's being wielded by a righteous person is also intriguing. What if an evil person wielded it? Would it turn evil? It certainly has the CAPACITY to turn corrupt, as we have seen...
Finally, I decided to toss Magni in there as a little ominous foreshadowing. (Shattering spoiler alert).
Magni forged Ashbringer, so he'd have a deep, intimate connection with the sword, it's true. And as long as he's safe, maybe the sword wouldn't have to worry. Too bad that in the events of the Shattering, Magni gets turned to stone! Uh oh! Worry time!
Overall, this letter wasn't one of my favorites, but I do enjoy the speculation about Ashbringer and tinfoil-hat theories.